Climate Ready Boston

downtownThe climate resiliency conversation has moved into warp drive in Boston.  Narrowly missing the impacts of Hurricane Sandy on New York City and coastal areas of New Jersey, as well as experiencing last winter’s crippling effects on business as usual, climate resilience and preparedness has emerged as a policy priority for Boston and the region.

This year, Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston launched Climate Ready Boston (CRB) led by the Environment, Energy and Open Space Cabinet in collaboration with the Green Ribbon Commission.  CRB will provide a planning framework and technical foundation for long-term climate preparedness, consistent with the City’s Climate Action Plan.

This two phase initiative will be undertaken over two years. Phase I began in October 2015 and includes:

  • The establishment of the Boston Research Advisory Group (BRAG) to develop a climate projection consensus of future climate change hazards faced by the Boston area in 2030, 2050, 2070 and 2100. Four climate change hazards have been examined: extreme temperature, extreme precipitation, sea level rise, and coastal storms.  A summary of the projections are currently being reviewed.

  • An integrated vulnerability assessment building on the BRAG projections, key data inputs from infrastructure providers and recent risk assessments. Currently in full swing, and scheduled to be completed by the end of April, this assessment aims to identify critical resiliency focus areas and their climate vulnerabilities - neighborhoods, properties, and infrastructure assets. An Infrastructure Advisory Group is guiding this work.

  • A portfolio of potential solution strategies for the critical resiliency focus areas identified. Spanning a broad range of interventions, they will include regulatory mechanisms, financial incentives, technical assistance, design standards, and physical infrastructure projects.

Phase II will focus on designing more detailed solutions for resiliency focus areas that will require more intensive public engagement, and addressing gaps in current governance structure at the city, regional and state levels.  The goal will be to design and create an on-going structure for government, private sector, academia, NGOs, and communities to collaborate on climate resiliency planning and implementation decisions over the long term.

A Better City is working with the City of Boston to engage the commercial real estate and business sectors about this important CRB initiative with a series of meetings, focus groups and events.  We have been active in climate resiliency for the last 18 months: in early 2015 we published a report Enhancing Resilience in Boston: A Guide for Large Buildings and Institutions and its compendium Building Resilience Toolkit; and in the fall of 2015 we released Passive Flood Barrier Overview and Product Comparisons, and hosted a summit on climate resilience for commercial real estate leaders.

Stay tuned for invitations to A Better City hosted events to learn about Climate Ready Boston progress and watch for CRB’s soon-to-be-released website!

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